Ana and I had the opportunity to participate on the team of event organizers for the WordCamp Chicago that was held last weekend. It was a wonderful event on many levels. To be sure it was professionally beneficial but it was also, simply a lot of fun. It’s one of the perks in doing what we do. We enjoy the technology. We enjoy the work. We enjoy the company of others who are likewise engaged. It truly is a “community” of users. Interesting people doing interesting things with the technology. We enjoy their personal stories of what they’re working on, the challenges they’re facing and the problems they’re solving. It’s all big fun for us.
A Pleasant Surprise… Matt Mullenweg
One of the pleasant surprises of the weekend was the surprise inclusion of a presentation by none other than Matt Mullenweg.
Now I don’t believe Matt has attained household name recognition of others in technology like Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and the short list of others so this may not be a name familiar to you. If though you’ve spent time in the world of WordPress however you’ll know Matt Mullenweg as “the guy”.
So this was really cool for us.
I’m sure Matt would testify himself to the fact that there were individuals and code from which he helped lead to what WordPress has become. Further, that by definition an open source platform like WordPress is the cumulative result of hundreds if not thousands of unnamed and largely un-thanked individuals who have helped contribute to the code that makes it the amazing platform that it has become. All that said yeah, Matt is “the guy” and it was cool to have him present and field unfiltered questions from those of us that use the platform and were in attendance at WordCamp Chicago.
Our Brush with Greatness… 😉
Matt really only “presented” for about ten minutes of the hour that was available for him before he simply shifted to fielding questions. There were lots of questions. I know the session was recorded. If it’s available I’ll attach it below. Given my observance of his presentation and subsequent conversations with others and ourselves I suspect he’d not be comfortable with the “Brush with Greatness” allusion. It’s just an expression and a bit tong-in-cheek at that. It is though a reflection of our enjoying getting to meet the guy that helped shepherd in the technology we personally use every day.
His interactions with us were very casual and unassuming. While we were waiting for Matt to finish a conversation we were chatting with his “significant”. I’ll reserve her name. A gracious and very delightful conversation.
Hangin’ at the After Party
So, along with a few other things part of our contribution for the Chicago WordCamp was organizing the “After Party”. A perennial, popular and important aspect to any WordCamp. I’d asked Aaron, the primary, lead organizer for WordCamp Chicago along with the lovely and talented Michelle, if he thought Matt and his significant might attend the After Party. The consensus was, not likely. After all, Matt is “the guy” and likely needs to jet off for hobnobing with other luminaries. Turns out they showed at the After Party. Again, how cool is that?
The take away
So, any insights or epiphanies I can share from our brief interactions? Hmmm. Not really. So why am I posting this then in the first place? Why would I think anyone would care?
How’s this. Mr. Bill Monroe
I once had the opportunity to shake the hand of Mr. Bill Monroe. (I almost accidentally knocked down Vassar but that’s another story) Bill was “the guy” in that world of music as the one who ushered into existence the new musical art form known as Bluegrass. As I play the mandolin this was a big deal for me and I’ll remember it always. While Bill has been credited for having invented Bluegrass in fact he too took aspects of the contributions of others and re-fashioned these influences into something new but not really detached from those earlier and other influences. Additionally, Bill did not actually do this by himself. Without the talents and contributions of Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Chubby Wise, Vassar Clements and innumerable others Bluegrass might not have happened or evolved as it has. I see some parallels here.
Just me or do you see a resemblance?
So anyway. Ana and I use WordPress every day. We use it professionally. We use it for fun. And often times for us the two mix together. It was cool to meet Bill. It was cool to meet both Matt and his significant and chat. It made an amazing WordCamp Chicago even amazing-er.